Notable South Australians/Frances Amelia Skipper
Frances Amelia Skipper
WAS the eldest daughter of the late Mr. Robert Thomas and singularly gifted, being a clever linguist, a good artist, and more than ordinarily skilful in the literary line, as her translations from French and Italian, and her writings in prose and poetry, testify. She arrived here with her parents in 1836, and attended the proclamation ceremony. She grew up with the colony, and took an active part in every movement that needed woman's helping hand, especially in schemes of charity and in matters of domestic duty. She married a congenial artistic spirit in Mr. John Michael Skipper, solicitor, whose reputation as a colonial artistic genius was so well established by his marvellously faithful representations of Australian scenery. She accompanied him on many excursions into the wild bush in search of the picturesque, helped him in his sketches, and was so proficient with the pencil and brush, that she often finished a picture he began, or produced sketches which he worked out. Portrait painting in water-colors was her forte, and specimens of her skill now in possession of her family bear indisputable testimony to her talent. In conjunction with her husband she executed a series of original representations of the principal characters in the satirical novel, "Ten Thousand a Year," such as Quirk, Grammon, and Snap, Tittlebat Titmouse, the Earl of Dredlington, etc. These productions are remarkable for witty conception and delicacy of drawing. Mrs. Skipper's name was associated with numerous deeds of unostentatious benevolence and practical usefulness. She died of decline in 1855, a good daughter, a faithful wife, a wise mother, and a true woman pioneer, of whom in after years her son, Mr. S. J. Skipper, wrote—
"They cheered us on our weary way,
They shared our hopes and fears;
They stood unflinching by our sides—
Those women pioneers.
They wearied not upon the way,
But smiled amid their toil,
And with us won this noble land,
Australia's virgin soil.
They helped us with unselfish lore,
They shrank not from our cares;
They aided us with hopeful words,
And armed us with their prayers.
They ne'er repined at trouble's cast,
Nor saddened us with tears;
They were a worthy sisterhood—
Those women pioneers."